Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke faced mounting criticism on Capitol Hill as they tried to explain their newly hatched bailout plan to a skeptical Senate Banking Committee.

The $700 billion plan gives unprecedented powers to the Treasury Secretary to buy distressed assets from financial institutions, mainly mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, but Paulson also left open the possibility that he might buy distressed student loans, credit card debt and other types of securities. Despite the plan's vague and ill-defined form, Bernanke and Paulson also insisted on not cluttering up the bill to address lawmakers' many concerns.

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